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Crystal River Valley ripples with live music

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By Lynn Burton
Sopris Sun Staff Writer

Redstone rocks this summer with a new ukulele group, new faces in the Redstone Tones, and some imported acts in the Magical Moments series.

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The free music action kicks off at 6 p.m. at the Redstone Art Gallery Summer Jazz series on Tuesday, June 13, and continues with Magic Moments at Redstone Park through Saturday, Sept. 2. Both series share at least one thing in common: quality sounds rippling through the cool air with the nearby Crystal River providing a gentle backdrop.

On the ukulele front, we’re talking about the all-women group that Redstone Art Gallery co-owner Stephanie Askew organized last September — the 12-member Crystal Ukuladies.

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Last fall, after a trip to Chama, New Mexico, where Askew learned about a musician who was teaching a group of women to play the ukulele, Askew decided to give it a try herself. She put out an email to Redstone Community Association members and friends, and got back a healthy response. “They were hungry for this,” Askew told The Sopris Sun. “So I decided ‘I’m going to do it.’”

As background for folks who are not as hip to the uku’ as the Ladies, the ukulele was developed in Portugal, and brought to Hawaii in the late 1880s, Askew said. The biggest difference between a ukulele and small guitar can be found in the strings; the guitar generally has six strings and the ukulele four. There are also four kinds of ukulele: soprano (small, and generally for children), concert, tenor and baritone.

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The Ukuladies repertoire, with sing-alongs, includes oldies like “In the Good Old Summer Time,” American folk songs and other tunes found in “The Daily Ukulele” songbook. The Ukuladies mostly strum songs together in unison, but on some, half the group will play the melody and half will play chords. “In the fall, we’ll learn picking … bar chords … it will get more complicated,” Askew said.

The Ukuladies have been learning, practicing and having a good time together at weekly Monday-night sessions in the Church at Redstone since Oct. 15. “That was our first official lesson,” Askew said. The only requirements for joining the group was each member had to have her own ukulele (which most selected at Glenwood Music) and “The Daily Ukulele” book. “I taught them for free.”

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Through the winter, the weekly sessions were canceled only twice, due to bad weather. “This told me they were interested and dedicated.” As the winter sessions continued, Askew divided the Ukuladies into beginner and advanced groups.

Askew has decades under her belt as a professional vocalist, musician and teacher (vocals, piano and guitar), studied opera in Vienna and later performed opera in Texas. When asked why she dedicated 6:45 to 8:15 p.m. to teaching ukulele for seven months, she replied, “It was something I can do to give back.”

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The Ukuladies will share the spotlight with the Redstone Tones (with vocalists the Rubies and So-Pris-sy Valley Girls) alongside the Crystal River in the Redstone Art Gallery’s sculpture garden the second and fourth Tuesday of the month from 6 to 8 p.m. Admission is free.

For the record, the Ukuladies is composed of: Lisen Richmond, Judi Garman, Lanni Haldeman, Maureen O’Brien, Jimmie Benedict, Mary Dorais, Kay Bell, Cathy Montgomery, Stephanie Askew, Janette Bier, Kathie Weller and Betty Bradley.

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The group will also appear at the Redstone Community Picnic on June 20 and after the Fourth of July parade at noon.

This summer’s Redstone Tones features a new lineup that includes local stalwarts Mateo Sandate (guitar), Ashton Taufer (bass), newcomer David Parker (vocals/keyboards) and Michael Askew (drums). The Rubies and So’Pris-sy Valley Girls feature newcomer Emma Leake, Janette Bier, Mary Dorais and Stephanie Askew.

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Magical Moments

Now in its 19th summer, the Redstone Community Association’s Magical Moments features Gigi Love (National Parks troubadour), You Knew Me When (indie folks rock duo from Nashville), Steve Manshel Band (a former member of Firefall), Whiskey Stomp (1970s-1980s classics and originals), Cowboy Brad Fitch (tribute to John Denver), Moors & McCumber (blues, bluegrass, Smoky Hills, Celtic), Aspen Music School Festival students), Emotional Rescue (Rolling Stones tribute band), Nanma (jazz/infusion).

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Briefly noted

Up in Marble this summer, Slow Groovin’ BBQ serves up outdoor music Tuesdays and Fridays from 6 to 9 p.m. The partial lineup includes: Josh Rogan (blues/rock), Smokin’ Joe & Zoe (bluesy rockin’ folk), Pam & Dan (Colorado mountain music), John Carlin & Rob Dasaro (rockin’ soulful funk) and Jessa Young (folk ’n soul).

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Note: This article contains some information that the Crystal Valley Echo provided.

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